Border protection, law enforcement, drug interdiction, search and rescue, environmental or man-made disasters; all require information or intelligence gathering. However, the ever-increasing cost of the technology necessary to do this means that we can field fewer and fewer aerial vehicles to support the people on the ground who, to keep us safe and secure, place themselves in harm’s way. We at World Aircraft Company, together with dedicated individuals from nine other companies, decided to develop a low-cost, high tech solution for aerial surveillance. Our objective was to create an aerial system so advanced, yet so inexpensive to acquire and operate, that it could be made available to even the most budget-strapped agency.
It didn’t take much time to decide on the parameters for such a vehicle. We wanted helicopter-like visibility but at a fraction of helicopter cost, both in terms of acquisition and hourly operating rate. The airplane had to have a large cabin to accommodate operators wearing bulky protective gear. It needed adjustable seats that would allow the shortest and the tallest people to operate the controls as well as lots of headroom. It had to be designed beyond the conventional limits of LSA aircraft for a greater level of safety. Parts replacement had to be quick and easy to negate long downtime. And last, but not least, it had to have STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) capability, excellent control over a large low-to-high speed range and superior glide capability in case of induced engine stoppage.
We would like to introduce you to “Sentinel”.
Sentinel is the first LSA airplane specifically designed to meet a low-cost need for aerial intelligence gathering. It has a huge 48” cabin, great forward, down, side and rear visibility and excellent STOL characteristics. Seats have 8” of travel and will accommodate a 6’8” pilot. Design gross weight is 1653 lbs. with a load factor of +7/-4 g. Sentinel uses a conventional wing with ailerons and flaps that are capable of 40 degrees of travel. Stall speed is 30 mph with a cruise of 110 mph using the Rotax 912ULS2 engine. Glide ratio is 10.5:1. In order to minimize downtime, parts are available as complete component assemblies (i.e. complete wings, tail surfaces) either painted or unpainted. As a light aerial observation platform, Sentinel has no equal.
For intelligence gathering, Sentinel uses NEOS (Near Earth Observation System) which provides complete end-to-end airborne science and intelligence solutions using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. Actionable, image-based intelligence is acquired, processed, analyzed, and distributed in a timely, flexible, and affordable manner. The tactical image and situational video information provides surface features down to a few inches in detail that can be scientifically measured and compared over time to document activity, conditions, impacts, and changes.
The utility of NEOS airborne intelligence has been repeatedly recognized by government agencies that include NASA, DHS, DOD, DOJ, DOE, National Science Foundation, and Scripts Institute of Oceanography. It has monitored illegal activities over extensive areas of the US/Mexico border and documented recent disasters including wildfire damage in California, the Mexicali earthquake, and the Horizon Gulf oil spill.
Under development for Sentinel is Pilot Optional control. Sentinel can be flown by a pilot, or in situations that warrant certain concerns, with the flip of a switch, flown as a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
See model “VISION” for the general aviation version of Sentinel.
Two examples of NEOS 3 inch resolution aerial imagery processed
for viewing and mapping in Google Earth. Footprints are visible in second
Sentinel Spec Sheet:
|Wing Span||32.9 ft|
|Wing Chord||48.4 ft|
|Wing Area||132.4 ft2|
|Fuselage Length||20.8 ft|
|Cabin Width||48.3 in|
|Fuel Capacity||24 US gal|
|Design Gross Weight||1653 lb|
|US Allowable Weight||1320 lb|
|Avg. Empty Weight||728 lb|
|Cruise power 75%||108 mph|
|Max cruise||120 mph|
|Stall with flaps||30 mph|
|Stall no flaps||37 mph|
|Takeoff distance||190 ft|
|Landing distance||120 ft|